Make Facebook Work for Your Restaurant

Hook customers with snappy posts and tempting photos

Most of the people in your community — your active and potential customers — are among the 1 billion+ Facebook users. Interacting with those consumers on Facebook is one of the most worthwhile marketing efforts for an independent restaurant. With a few simple engagement strategies, you can expand your audience and attract new customers without investing endless hours or purchasing ad space.

Facebook Rewards Genuine Activity

There are only two ways to use Facebook as a marketing tool: pay for advertisements, or be an active user. If you don’t want to purchase ad space, then you’ll need to invest a little bit of time each week to engage with your Facebook fans. The reward for this engagement are free exposure to thousands of potential diners. What does it mean to be an active user? At least a couple times a week, make a post to your page, and engage with customers.

What Should You Post?

Your page will be seen by your favorite customers, as well as friends of friends, and perfect strangers just searching for a place to eat. What can you share that appeals to all these viewers? Just stay simple, professional, and timely. Here are some ideas to inspire you:

• For lunch today we’re serving up a fresh-catch special: Seared Halibut with Grilled Asparagus
• Tonight is the big game! Enjoy our classic Big Burger and a draft pint for only $8.
• Just got our new crop of habaneros. Come on in to try our famous mango salsa.
• The Tutti Frutti cocktail is back! Fresh pineapple puts this drink over the top.
• Come enjoy the sunshine with lunch on our outdoor patio.
• Karaoke this Friday, don’t miss it! Starts at 8, all ages welcome.
• In honor of national Craft Beer Week, we’ve got 6 Northwest brews on tap. Try a flight to find your favorite.
• The Hometown Little Leaguers have their first game today. We’ll be rooting for you!

Irresistible Images

The new Facebook feed is designed to be a visual feast: pictures and videos are displayed larger and more prominently than ever. Restaurants have an advantage here, as customers will devour photos of your delicious food and your establishment. Try to include visuals in most of your posts by uploading your own photos, linking to other images, or sharing relevant Youtube videos. Food is a visual experience, and you can foster loyalty simply by sharing your passion for food. People often connect with restaurants where they had a memorable experience — a birthday dinner, a favorite hometown bakery. Serving up pictures of your food keeps you fresh in their minds and close to their hearts, and lets them recommend you to their friends with confidence.

Engage with Customers

Facebook is more than just a billboard for your promotions; it’s a chance for your customers to communicate with you, too. Visitors to your page can reply to any of your posts, share photos on your page, or post their own question or comment. Although it’s a lot less formal than talking to a customer face-to-face, take this communication seriously. If someone asks a question on your page, be sure to reply in a timely fashion, so that everyone can see your response. Most of your fans will use your page to praise you, but some customers will want to vent about a bad experience. If they offer a specific grievance (e.g. “The server Mindy was so rude”) send that user a message directly and try to salvage the situation.

Your brand, your customer service, and your reputation now must extend beyond the walls of your restaurant. Think of Facebook as a tool to help you build these relationships and grow your business.